Tom Klare

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What Grows in Vegas Stays in Vegas

Merrill Shindler / June 2012

Las Vegas—Mario Batali and his restaurateur partner Joe Bastianich have long been masters of marketing synergy—intertwining restaurants with products, with cookbooks, with TV shows. And with their Sustainable Local Farmers’ Market here, they’ve taken that synergy one level further—both sourcing ingredients for their restaurants, and for those who want to prepare the dishes they serve in their restaurants.

Just a few months ago, when locally grown Bing cherries came into season, they didn’t just sell them—they also offered recipes for making a Bing Sling (Bing cherry puree, simple syrup, Russian Standard Vodka, Bénédictine, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice)—a recipe that could also be sampled at their Carnevino Restaurant in the Palazzo Hotel and Casino. Ditto their Quebranta Crush, made with micro grapes sold at their farmers’ market (muddled and mixed with Barsol Pisco, lime juice, egg whites, and simple syrup). Buy it and do-it-yourself. Or buy it and sample it at their restaurants. In either case, the essential goodness of the ingredients used by Batali and Bastianich was writ large. Where most Las Vegas restaurateurs have their produce flown in, Batali and Bastianich source theirs locally—a powerful image in a locavore age.

It was back in June 2009 that Batali and Bastianich came up with the idea of doing a one-day-only market in the Waterfall Atrium at The Palazzo wing of The Venetian, right on the Las Vegas Strip. It was a celebration of the certification by the Green Restaurant Association of all three of their local restaurants (B&B Ristorante, Carnevino, and Enoteca San Marco). And doing it inside The Palazzo—which, thanks to its LEED Building Certification, is the world’s largest green building—seemed just right.

But for Batali and Bastianich, once turned out to be far from enough. Less than a year later, the one-shot market turned into a weekly Molto Vegas Bet on the Farm farmers’ market, held every Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group’s off-site storage facility.

And these days, thanks to the need for even more space, Bet on the Farm can be found at the Springs Preserve (333 S. Valley View Blvd., Las Vegas; www.betonthefarm.com), with expanded hours—Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

And what do you buy there? Well, there’s citrus, stone fruit, and avocados from King Ranch in White Hills, Ari­zona. Seasonal produce from Kerry Clasby, the “Intuitive Forager.” Freshly baked breads from Bon Breads Baking Co. in Las Vegas. Freshly pressed juice from Gilcrease Orchards in Las Vegas. Tomatoes from Hy-Desert Produce in Pahrump, Nevada. Herbs from Penguin Produce in Sand Valley, Neva­da; and from Herbs by Diane in Boulder City, Nevada. Eggs and honey from The Farm in North Las Vegas. And apricots and peaches from The Orchard of the University of Nevada in Las Vegas.

There’s little surprise that a tree grows in Brooklyn. But there’s much surprise to find what grows in and around Las Vegas.